Potential public health consequences of liberalising cannabis legislation (South Africa)

Laws that increase access to cannabis will have public health consequences including respiratory health, traffic-related injuries, and the mental health of vulnerable populations.Evidence highlights safety concerns that cannabis causes damage to the developing brain. Cannabis use can damage the brain to such an extent, that even after years of abstinence the damage is still present and it is not yet clear whether these effects are reversible. In particular, cannabis use during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse outcomes for women and their neonates.

Scientific research may not have kept pace with the speed at which cannabis laws are being liberalised. Consideration needs to be given to these public health concerns as South Africa moves towards ratifying the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.